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Rats in the Ranks 1996
Description: Each September Sydney's inner-suburban Leichhardt Council re-elects it mayor. Incumbent Larry Hand was famous with the citizenry but they don't vote for mayor - the 12 councillors do - and after three years of Larry, at least four councillors were after his job. When film-makers Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson settled in at Leichhardt Council in early 1994 the knives were already being sharpened. A war royal was in the making, and so it came to pass. By the end of September Larry had fought the war of his life, with Connolly and Anderson documenting each bit of it on film. Ambition, courage, envy, hatred, loyalty, betrayal, disaster, triumph... in another words, a classic study in politics.
Released: 05 Sep 1996 Director: Robin Anderson, Bob Connolly(co-director) Writers: N/A Actors: Larry Hand Genres: Documentary
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Rats in the Ranks Reviews:

This is a nice documentary covering a mayoral election in suburban Sydney where the incumbant mayor, Larry Hand, is seeking re-election in an internal council election. Larry needs 7 of the 12 Councillors' votes and we watch him attempt each ruse accessible to gain the help of his fellow councillors. We receive a fly on the wall view of political manouvering and backroom machinations as Larry cajoles, flatters and threatens his fellow councillors into voting for him. While there are some instances where folks refused to be filmed negotiating with Larry, generally we are show at Larry's side throughout his campaign.Although we receive to see first hand the duplicitous nature of Larry, we still sympathise with him and hope he defeats the evil Labor Party candidate (filmed in a very negative light) and retain his mayoral robes for other term. Rats in the Ranks details twists and turns befitting a thriller and is a nice example of realpolitik.Highly recommendable.


Anderson and Connolly filmed everything they should receive their lenses on in the weeks leading up to a crucial Leichardt Council meeting. No doubt they were hoping for the occasional unguarded word to be caught on movie - or perhaps a minor scandal might flit in front of the camera for a minute or two.The result? Not only did they receive all the juicy items they had hoped for, and more; they got a storyline so excellent and brilliantly proportioned that it should have been scripted - indeed, the `script' that resulted from Anderson and Connolly taking true happenings and snipping out the irrelevant bits is far more satisfying, intelligent and just plain entertaining than all but a handful of the scripts on which Hollywood is willing to squander millions of dollars. Anderson and Connolly's nice fortune surpasses belief. I'm not telling they don't deserve this nice fortune. But by gum, it IS nice fortune. It's as if they'd planted a camera on the shores of Loch Ness just as the creature takes its first breath since 1450.Their only trouble gotta have been to war the impulse to tap some of the councillors on the shoulder and say them what some of the another councillors were planning to do. It's obvious they didn't, because ... oh, watch the movie and search out.P.S.: Having peeked behind the scenes, I have to tell that I'd still be prepared to vote for Larry Hand (the mayor whose term is about to expire and may or may not be renewed). He's probably a decent enough mayor. Indeed, despite the wonderful double-dealing that goes on, most of the councillors are almost innocent. The ones we DON'T see might be the Evil Politicians of famous fable, but the ones we do see really have no vices that weren't already show in the electorate, on election day.


I can only accept with another comments that this documentary is so excellent it might have been scripted. It has everything you should wish in a drama right down to a suspenseful climax.One thing that hasn't been highlighted is the war that some council members have with their own conscience - watching them agonise between their consciences and their party loyalty is funny and painful at the same time.



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